Monday, October 13, 2008

I don't know what happened to the "sleep cure."

At yesterday's Bouchercon Guest of Honor interview, Laura Lippman talked about having secretly read her mother's hidden copy of VALLEY OF THE DOLLS at an age that was too young to understand it completely.

I too felt too young to understand VALLEY OF THE DOLLS when I read it, and I was in my late 30s at the time -- but the power of good trash is that some images and plot points stick with you.

At one point fairly late in VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, the sex kitten Jennifer North checks herself into a clinic in Switzerland to lose weight through a "sleep cure" that keeps patients unconscious for a week at a time. The bipolar Neely O'Hara, strung out on pills and panicked over her own weight, latches on to this idea as a lifeline, although her own psychiatrist advises a year in a sanitarium.

My friend Karen Olson and I have discussed this wonderful old-fashioned vision of the sanitarium -- the idea of a gracious converted mansion with lounge chairs on a rolling green lawn, where quiet attendants dressed in white bring you toast and cups of tea. Did those ever exist, or did we just get the idea from some Harold Robbins miniseries? Whatever happened to the "rest cure"?

And for that matter, whatever happened to the "sleep cure"? I recently did some research about miraculous recoveries from extreme cases of hypothermia, which often involve a medically-induced coma, but I don't think that's the same thing. Is anyone still offering a VALLEY OF THE DOLLS-style sleep cure, and if so, for what, and what does it cost?

I realize the possibility of my own crummy insurance covering it is slim. But just for today, instead of driving home to Maine, I'm going to take a couple of Benadryl and try to catch up on my sleep. I've picked up an alarming cough, and hope that a day of antihistamines and 16 hours of sleep will get me back on the road early tomorrow morning.

Bouchercon was terrific, by the way. As usual, I didn't get a chance to talk to everyone I wanted to see, but did manage to spend some quality time with friends, make a few new ones, pick up a couple of new projects, and avoid making any new enemies that I know of. (And no, if I did make any new enemies, I don't need to know.)

4 comments:

Laura Benedict said...

What--no new enemies?! Didn't you have any fun?

Rest well. xo

Andrew Williams said...

OMG! I write a blog about working for a billionaire, and mentioned the "eight day sleep cure" in a post on April 13, 2011. Your article here made me realize where I'd heard about it! Of course! "Valley of the Dolls"! Where else? Ha!

Andrew Williams said...

And by the way, Ms. Benedict's sense of humor, in her comment above, pretty much gets me hysterical. Ha!

That would even give Oscar Wilde a chuckle!

Anonymous said...

I feel exactly the same! What happened to the sleep cure? I read the book when I was like...15!? Is it to early? I don't think so...
What I know is: I want to do a sleep cure so badly!! Sleep+lose weight= perfection xxx

Lou